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Fan Reaction: Rockets beat the Spurs in San Antonio

Houston escapes San Antonio with a victory to end a stretch of 7 road games in their first 8 games of the season. Unquestionably their biggest win of the season and you have to go deep into last year to find a bigger regular season win (ironically it might’ve been their victory over the Spurs on Christmas in Houston).

And they got the win by playing well on both sides of the ball. The defense was above average for 3 quarters (the 1st, 3rd and 4th) when they held the Spurs to 24. 20 and 19 points respectively. And overall they held the team to 99 points and 39% shooting. But the biggest success might have to be the 30% from 3 the Spurs shot. The Spurs were at around 40% from behind the arc coming into this game. That was always a part of the Spurs offense that could always kill opponents especially at home. But Houston managed to keep the open 3s to a minimum in this game.

Ariza was able to force a relatively innefficient 34 point game from Kawhi Leonard that took him 26 shots to get to. LaMarcus Aldridge was even more innefective with 14 points on 5 of 15 shooting.

I can’t for the life of me figure out how this happened. This is the same Rockets team that had gotten destroyed by opposing teams power forwards on multiple occasions this year. It happened with the Lakers, the Cavs, the Mavs, the Hawks to some extent. And Rockets fans are probably well aware of how good Aldridge can be, especially against smaller defenders because he can just turn around from anywhere and shoot over them. When I saw this matchup on the calendar, Aldridge was the guy I thought would give us the most trouble.

The only thing I can guess is that he wore himself out a little being forced to guard Anderson and Dekker all game. Seems like a flimsy reason, but we didn’t seem to have a special defense against him other than to send occasional double teams.

Probably my favoite aspect of the Rockets defensive performance tonight happened in the 4th quarter. The Rockets went into the 4th leading by 5. The Spurs managed to take the lead with Harden and most of the starters on the bench, and it forced D’Antoni to go back to Harden with nine and a half minutes left to play in the game. Harden came back in and did his thing to bring Houston back to a 6 point lead.

But then it seemed like the minutes started to have an effect on his game. Houston would hold a 98-95 lead with nearly 4 minutes to go in the game. They would only score 3 points the rest of the game. Harden would miss 2 free throws in a row, miss all of his shots and turn the ball over multiple times late in the 4th. And had the Rockets lost the game, this bad stretch of offense would be talked about a lot. But fortunately for the Rockets, the Spurs only scored 4 points in those same 4 minutes.

Lets talk about the offense now though. I make it sound like they played poorly on that end of the floor, but they didn’t. They got a solid game out of the offense. Ryan Anderson gave us another great 20 point game. The bench was huge. Dekker had a career high 10 points and Gordon came off the bench for the 2nd game in a row and added 15. The bench in general gave us a season high 36 points. And it helped that we were able to get scoring from other places because Harden only managed a mediocre 24 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.

Obviously I kid. Harden did end his stretch of 30 point and 10 assist games that he had going the past 4 games. But this was his 4th 15 assist game in the past 5 games (with 5 overall this season). He’s showing that the 17 assist career high he set earlier this year wasn’t a fluke. He is still comfortably in the lead in assists this year.

The Rockets will be in Houston this Saturday to play the Spurs again. And after seeing the Cavs, Hawks and Spurs on the road recently, a home game against a Spurs team we just beat seems easy by comparison.

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